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Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Sick Woman Theory – Mask Magazine
"The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other, to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care."
via:anne  disability  feminism  gender  health  anticapitalism  precarity  fragility  care  caring  kinship  radicalism  nursing  nurturing  vulnerability  sociality  social  politics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin: A Left-Handed Commencement Address
"So what I hope for you is that you live there not as prisoners, ashamed of being women, consenting captives of a psychopathic social system, but as natives. That you will be at home there, keep house there, be your own mistress, with a room of your own. That you will do your work there, whatever you’re good at, art or science or tech or running a company or sweeping under the beds, and when they tell you that it’s second-class work because a woman is doing it, I hope you tell them to go to hell and while they’re going to give you equal pay for equal time. I hope you live without the need to dominate, and without the need to be dominated. I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing — instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls."
via:anne  ursulaleguin  hierarchy  patriarchy  power  millscollege  commencementaddresses  1983  society  victims  darkness  domination  control  commencementspeeches 
july 2018 by robertogreco
A response, and second Open Letter to the Hau Journal's Board of Trustees — Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa New Zealand
"In Māori communities, whanaungatanga - the process of building strong relationships - ideally comes before the pursuit of other goals. But before such relationships can be built with others, good intent and sound actions have to be well demonstrated."

[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1009545786206502912 ]

[See also:

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/10068

"1. (noun) relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship.

Kōrero ai ngā whakapapa mō te whanaungatanga i waenganui i te ira tangata me te ao (Te Ara 2011). / Whakapapa describe the relationships between humans and nature."

***

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/12711

"1. (noun) process of establishing relationships, relating well to others.

Kei te whakapapa ngā tātai, ngā kōrero rānei mō te ao katoa, nā reira ko ngā whakapapa he whakawhanaungatanga ki te ao, ki te iwi, ki te taiao anō hoki (Te Ara 2011). / Whakapapa is the recitation of genealogies or stories about the world, so whakapapa are ways by which people come into relationship with the world, with people, and with life."

***

http://www.imaginebetter.co.nz/good-life-kete/whanautanga-positive-and-meaningful-relationships-within-the-community/

"Whanaungatanga – positive and meaningful relationships within the community

We use the term whanaungatanga to highlight the importance of positive and meaningful relationships to the creation of the good life.
Whanaungatanga = Relationship, kinship, sense of family connection – a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group. It also extends to others to whom one develops a close familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship (Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary)

Whanaungatanga values a wide range of relationships, like family and friendships, and points to feelings of belonging and inclusion. Whanaungatanga captures the belief that the more relationships people have in their lives the happier and healthier they are.

Relationships come in many shapes and forms: they may be a regular friendly chat with someone based on a shared interest or a long-term loving intimate relationship. Each relationship is unique, because every person is different. And, having a wide range of relationships is important. A diverse social network made up of relationships with a variety of people enriches people’s lives.

Relationships are the heart of the community. And a sense of being connected to the community through relationships is at the core of the good life. In fact, the community provides endless opportunities for the creation of relationships.

The community is a fantastic resource, rich with possibilities for developing and growing relationships through jobs, volunteering, and recreation. Relationships help us connect to the community, and this connection provides more opportunities to get to get to know a range of people and expand our social networks.We believe people with disability should have the same opportunities to be involved in their community, meet people and develop friendships as anyone else.

Natural and Formal Supports
Natural supports describe the naturally occurring or informal relationships experienced in the community, for example, between neighbours, within cultural groups, and through working lives. We believe natural supports are the most effective way forward in terms of support for people with disability to achieve a good life in the ordinary spaces of the community.

One of the great things about natural supports is that they aren’t associated with any financial cost! People are not paid to offer support, instead they do it because of a shared interest or connection. Natural support can come in many forms, for example, it may be a ride to the supermarket, assistance filling out a form, or help with meeting new friends.

Experience shows us that people with disability are more likely to be included in the community if natural supports are encouraged around their participation. This is because it is difficult to become part of a community from the outside. It is much easier if it happens from within the community. A good example of this is when someone has an interest in joining a particular club or group. It is better to have a member of that group introduce the person, because they will be known by the rest of the group already, and they will know how to introduce the person in a way that fits with the group.

In saying this, we also know that for many people with disability and their whānau, paid services and professionals, also known as formal supports, play an important role in their lives. Formal supports may usefully be part of people’s search for the good life, but care needs to be taken to make sure it does not over-ride the authority and power of the person and their whānau. Paid services and supports should complement, not take over or exclude the natural supports that already exist or could be developed."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMe_5ERYWzk ]
communities  maori  relationships  cv  sfsh  2018  whanaungatanga  words  priorities  via:anne  tcsnmy  community  support  interdependence 
june 2018 by robertogreco
An Afrofuturist Reading List – How We Get To Next
"Just what is Afrofuturism, and what is all the fuss about? It might seem like it’s a recent movement, but there’s actually a ton of resources out there if you know where to look."
afrofutureism  lists  readlnglists  2016  via:anne  florenceokoye 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Matters of Care — University of Minnesota Press
"Matters of Care presents a powerful challenge to conventional notions of care, exploring its significance as an ethical and political obligation for thinking in the more than human worlds of technoscience and naturecultures. A singular contribution to an emerging interdisciplinary debate, it expands agency beyond the human to ask how our understandings of care must shift if we broaden the world."

"Through its observations and appreciations of the worlds in which many forms of care happen, this bold and synthetic book makes two transforming contributions to contemporary theorizing as it subtly invites everyone to appreciate the centrality of posthuman thinking. Feminists and posthumanists can no longer speak past each other: here’s why." —Joan C. Tronto, University of Minnesota
books  care  caring  via:anne  technoscience  nature  naturecultures  ethics  politics  posthumanism  feminism  morethanhuman  toread  maríapuigdelabellacasa 
january 2018 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed - Ethnography – What is it and why do we need it?
"‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’

‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’ – This is the not uncommon response from the uninitiated when one is embarking on a faraway ethnography project. It was in any event what a university employee asked me as I was setting off to conduct research on maritime migration into southern Europe – with first stop being, erm, the Spanish Canary Islands.

Aside from my unfortunate choice of initial destination, those who compare ethnography to a spot of vacationing do have a point: ethnographers in action can sometimes look distinctly like layabouts with too much time on their hands. You might spot them on a street corner, smoking with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells or pin-striped investment bankers, or catch them lazing about in a teahouse, a pub or a palm-fronded village. But as the ethnographers smoke their fags or sip their tea (or beer), what you don’t see is the mental gymnastics as they figure out how to enter the world of a street con artist, a body-builder or a stock broker. As one anthropologist once told a class of aspiring ethnographers, it’s all rather like being a teenager again: spending time trying to fit in and befriend perfect strangers.

Still, it can be good fun. Try it for yourself – a few minutes during your daily commute will do. Start off by observing other commuters stream past. How do they interact with each other, with the gates and the workers, and how can you tell them apart? Who is relaxed, who is stressed out, who glances anxiously about? Then join them in the rush: feel and sense what it’s like to be a commuter – the squash, the pushing, the rank armpits, the blinking smartphones and the freesheets held up as shields against intruding humanity. Observe it all. Sense it all. Then, finally, befriend those perfect strangers. Repeat next day. And the day after that. A year of this and you might be done and dusted.

Besides such ‘participant observation’, most of what ethnographers do is writing, writing, writing. Not just finished books or articles, but ‘field notes’ – scrawled into notebooks or typed on to a laptop, as I did when travelling the Euro-African borderlands on a quest to understand the interlocked worlds of undocumented migration and border controls. After a day volunteering in the migrant camp of Ceuta, a tiny Spanish enclave in North Africa – interpreting for the camp workers, answering migrants’ anxious questions, hanging about being generally useless – I’d rush home to type furiously on my wobbly Eee PC. As I travelled along clandestine African trails, I scrawled notes at the back of the bumpy four-wheel drives of Senegalese border police; and as I crossed the tall border fences surrounding Ceuta, the Spanish border guard accompanying me advised that I hide my notepad to avoid rousing suspicion among his Moroccan colleagues. It didn’t help much: next time I showed up a soldier waved his gun at me, but no matter. Weaving between camp life, border fences and surly soldiers was all in a day’s work – much as other ethnographers spend their time crouching among farmworkers in the fields, sneaking into the secret world of Wall Street or learning the art of sorcery on the edge of the Sahara.

Ethnography, then, is straying out of our comfort zone in order to understand another social world. It is a messy, fuzzy, tough and accident-prone line of business, as the young sociologist Alice Goffman realised when critics started tearing into her bestselling On the Run, a riveting ethnography about the causes and effects of constant police crackdowns in a poor black American neighbourhood. One journalist, frustrated with how Goffman had anonymised her data – and so made her text unverifiable – hit out at her methods, calling ethnography ‘an uncomfortable hybrid of impressionistic data gathering, soft-focus journalism with even a dash of creative writing’.

Besides their more valid concerns, some such critics of Goffman’s book were trying to read it as a piece of reportage that principally pointed a finger of blame. But ethnography is not a journalistic exposé. Rather than dig for killer facts, good ethnographers aim to uncover something deeper about how a society or subculture works – and it does so by changing perspective to that of the insider. We have to suspend disbelief and shift our gaze: what is the world really like when, during your every waking moment, you feel the police are out to get you? As Goffman took us into the street lives of young African Americans afraid to visit the hospital because they might get arrested, she conveyed to us these men’s view of the authorities, of the world and of their precarious place in it.

This understanding cannot come about through a social survey or a piece of investigative reporting alone. We have to stick around and listen, observe and participate, one awkward step at a time. It may be messy and imperfect, yet it opens up worlds that will otherwise remain locked to outsiders.

Ethnography is research on the slow boil – something that’s getting harder to justify at a time when our public debate increasingly favours the quick flash in the pan. Yet amid calls for more media soundbites, ready-made research metrics and pre-cooked policy ‘solutions’, this is precisely why we need it more than ever."
via:anne  2017  ethnography  rubenanderson  srg  slow  slowness  research  alicegoffman  sociology  anthropology 
december 2017 by robertogreco
These photos show some unexpected friendships between humans and their animals - The Washington Post
"Over the summer, The Washington Post partnered with Visura in an open call for submissions of photo essays. The Post selected three winners out of more than 200 submissions. We are presenting the second winner today here on In Sight — Diana Bagnoli and her work “Animal Lover.”

Bagnoli is an Italian freelance photographer based in Turin and has always loved and lived with animals. What started as a personal project in her free time has blossomed into an award-winning personal series.

“I wanted to explore the special relationship that people establish with what I would call ‘unusual pets.’ I had a feeling that I would discover interesting situations and be able to document how someone can be involved in a different kind of friendship,” she said.

Bagnoli finds her subjects in the countryside near her home town in northern Italy. She visits animal sanctuaries, meets animal activists and finds everyday animal lovers, each with a unique story and special connection.

“One man entered in a factory with a balaclava in the middle of the night to save a pig, and another one explained to me how he deeply loves toads because he’s so proud of their survivor spirit,” Bagnoli said.

She photographs her subjects where they are most comfortable, at their homes. She chooses a location that might yield an interesting interaction and show the animal’s connection to the world of the humans who care for them. Bagnoli says her subjects are always happy to share their stories and how passionate they are about their animals.

She recently started a new chapter of her series dedicated to insect lovers. She discovered an unexpectedly large community of people who bred insects or had them as pets. She found them to have an even more personal and tender relationship with their insects, valuing their beauty, character and how important they are to the planet. Her most unusual subject so far is Andrea Bonifazi and his stick insect, Phasmid. Andrea has bred stick insects for 10 years and spends most of his free time observing them.

“They’re like a living book, it’s enough to watch them to understand how their world works,” he said.

Bagnoli learned that pigs squeal quite loudly when they are not coddled and that Alpacas are faithful companions, but most of all that the animals she photographed sought affection and companionship from their humans and vice versa. She is not sure that her series has changed perceptions about our relationships with animals, but she hopes it will."
multispecies  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  photography  2017  geese  alpacaspigs  sheep  bees  turtles  rabbits  cats  butterflies  insects  chickens  classideas  donkeys  goats  snakes  birds  via:anne  dianabagnoli  italy  italia 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Children Of The Anthropocene | Future Unfolding | Heterotopias
"Look beneath your feet and you will see the Anthropocene. It is made of the deep concrete that paves our cities, the abundant plastics that constitute our waste and the metal pipes that funnel our water and oil. Look up and the chances are you will see it, too. Vapour trails linger in the air after an aeroplane has shot through a clear, blue sky, their chemical residue spraying delicately over the earth below.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life”
In 2000, the Nobel-prize winning atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen, and biologist, Eugene F. Stoermer, advanced a theory suggesting we are no longer living in the geological epoch known as the Holocene. Following the Paleolithic Ice Age, the Holocene provided us with stable, mild climates for approximately 12,000 years. Weather patterns were relatively predictable while land, animals, plant and tree life carved out a flourishing existence amidst its warm, pleasant temperatures. Citing the measurable effect greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane were exacting on the atmosphere, Crutzen proposed the Anthropocene, “the age of man”, the delineation of a time defined by human action on the environment. While the term has not yet gained official designation, there are increasing efforts to scientifically prove its existence. Global warming, plastic pollution, nuclear waste and many other human-driven phenomenon leave an unmistakable trace in geological records, the data of which is being used to evidence the Anthropocene.

Despite the bleak hubris and narcissism underpinning the term, these scientific efforts are facilitating a broader dawning ecological awareness. Eschewing the apocalyptic fatalism of its many contemporaries, Future Unfolding asks not what the world looks like after the deluge but before it. The game pulls off the temporal trick of transporting both player and setting back in time, adopting an almost childlike gaze of its seemingly edenic world. Inspired by designers Mattias Ljungström and Marek Plichta’s own experiences growing up in the Swedish and Polish countryside, dense forests of coniferous trees grow unchecked and its woodland floor is often carpeted with delicate red and yellow flowers. With such a shift in perspective—a reversion back to an earlier self—Future Unfolding asks us to assume a state of naivety and rediscover a sense of openness. With it, we might relearn our relationship with nature, unpick our assumptions and dissolve the hubris of our Anthropocene.

Things don’t function as you might expect in Future Unfolding. A tree is often a tree but at other times it is a portal, capable of transcending time and space. Sometimes these portals appear in its fauna like the idly grazing sheep who possess the ability to teleport. Elsewhere, amidst the ferns and luminescent lichen, pines appear to make patterns, simple shapes that when strung together, produce an entity capable of dissolving obstacles such as the impassable boulders strewn across the land. I remember playing in the ancient woodlands of Snowdonia as a child, forging many of the same connections and exploring the same potential of the environment that Future Unfolding depicts. That landscape hummed with the vibrancy of life, from the insects that consumed the pungent, rotting leaves on the ground to the thick, green moss that covered each rock. It offered me a window into another world that, as a child, echoed in my consciousness."



"For a crisis as enveloping as the Anthropocene, there is a value in this type of universalism. Specific problems abound that require specific solutions, of course, but Future Unfolding, along with other video games, literature, art and music are beginning to craft a new vernacular capable of conveying this shift in expression. Bjork’s work has long since channelled some sort of symbiosis with nature. Speaking about utopia in a recent interview with Dazed, she said: “There’s this old argument that civilisation treats nature the same as man treats women—you have to oppress it and dominate in order to progress. I just don’t agree with that. There is another way.” Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith crafts what might be considered the sonic equivalent to Future Unfolding’s pristine wilderness, her dense latticework synths sparkling with the same primordial urgency as the game. Track titles like “Existence in the Unfurling” speak to a similar biological enmeshing that Future Unfolding works towards. Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus explores similar terrain, that game’s fizzing soundtrack determined by your place in the environment. Trees, hillocks and beaches all carry specific sounds, the effect of which jostles you into paying closer attention to its procedurally generated landscape."



"Throughout both Future Unfolding and the Southern Reach Trilogy, the gap between “us” and “them”—between humans and other life—is broken down. Sleeping mammals with long, white hair populate the game’s glowing landscape, each one keen to dispense knowledge. “Things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote,” one said to me. “The near explains the far. The drop is a small ocean.” Their words emphasise wholeness and co-existence at times while also asking the player to unknow. “Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything,” said another. “Not till we are lost. In other words, not till we have lost the world do we begin to find ourselves.” This might sound like the garbling of a new-age hippie but these messages signal to a wider picture while the moments of discovery and interaction enable us to peek at the minutiae of blooming flowers and bobbling rocks.

Adopting this shift in perspective allows us to understand the scope of the Anthropocene as well as a way out of it. In his 2016 book, Dark Ecology, the philosopher Timothy Morton, wrote that “ecological awareness forces us to think and feel at multiple scales, scales that disorient normative concepts such as ‘present’, ‘life’, ‘human’, ‘nature’, ‘thing’, ‘thought,’ and ‘logic.’” But in traversing and reconciling these eerie phenomena we might reach a state of intimacy with nonhumans. “Coexisting with these nonhumans is ecological thought, art, ethics and politics.” For Morton, such a coexistence doesn’t entail a deferral to primitivism but an embracing of technologies amidst a transforming viewpoint. Play is crucial to the process and Future Unfolding gives us a space where we might test out these ideas for size to see how they fit, feel and taste.

Future Unfolding’s childlike gaze gently encourages a flexibility of thinking within us. It asks us to forget old cognitive pathways and instead forge new routes of thought. It is sometimes a sticky, unsettling process and, eschewing formal instructions or direction, the game reflects our current state of unknowing. We are prone to flailing in the murky darkness of the forest. But as we reformulate our relationship with nonhumans, Future Unfolding asks us to push through the uncomfortable anxiety of dawning ecological intimacy. Only then might we reach the ecstasy the Biologist experiences in Area X. We are prone to flailing in the murky darkness of the forest. But as we reformulate our relationship with nonhumans, Future Unfolding asks us to push through the uncomfortable anxiety of dawning ecological intimacy. Only then might we reach the ecstasy the Biologist experiences in Area X."
anthropocene  2017  lewisgordon  games  gaming  videogames  timothymorton  paulcrutzen  eugenestroermer  systems  systemsthinking  edkey  davidkanaga  proteus  kaitlynaureliasmith  futureunfolding  johnmuir  nature  mattiasljungström  marekplichta  globalarming  climatechange  via:anne  trees  lanscape  toplay  universalism  jeffvandermeer  southernreachtrilogy  biology  morethanhuman  multispecies  darkeccology  ecology  björk 
october 2017 by robertogreco
What To Read When You Want To Make America Great Again - The Rumpus.net
"Next Tuesday, we celebrate our country. A country that seems to be imploding with every passing presidential tweet. A country that has failed to care for the most vulnerable while those in power grow richer. Celebrating the Fourth this year feels a bit like going out for dinner with a cheating spouse.

But it’s important to remember that America is not our leaders, America is us. In that vein, here are some books that help remind us what actually makes America great (hint: it’s not tax cuts). Some of these books are problematic; others contain racism (looking at you Ma and Pa Ingalls); still more are jubilant, triumphant, and full of hope. But each highlights a real aspect of America, good or bad, and hopefully can remind us that what makes America great are the voices of the people who call this messy place home.

***

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov:
As Rumpus Senior Features Editor Julie Greicius pointed out, “Lolita, oddly enough, is a brilliant foreigner’s felonious road trip across America, with Lolita herself as metaphor of a country too young to understand what crime is being committed against her.”

The Federalist Papers by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
A collection of eight-five articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Go check out what two of our Founding Fathers hoped America might be.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The American dream, sans happy ending. So, real life?

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
A Newbery Medal-winning book about racism in America during the Great Depression. Taylor explores life in southern Mississippi, when racism was still common in the South and many were persecuted for the color of their skin.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine
Rankine recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost—and what they find—is revealed in fifteen interconnected stories that span over thirty years.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Told in a series of vignettes—sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous—this is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become.

Snopes: A Trilogy by William Faulkner
A saga that stands as perhaps the greatest feat of Faulkner’s imagination. “For all his concerns with the South, Faulkner was actually seeking out the nature of man,” noted Ralph Ellison. “Thus we must turn to him for that continuity of moral purpose which made for the greatness of our classics.”

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A series of American children’s novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder based on her childhood in the northern Midwestern United States during the 1870s and 1880s. Eight were completed by Wilder, and published by Harper & Brothers from 1932 and 1943. The first draft of a ninth novel was published posthumously in 1971 and is commonly included in the Little House series.

The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
Lyrical and gritty, this authentic coming-of-age story about a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas insightfully illuminates a little-understood corner of America.

Native Guard by Natasha Tretheway
Through elegiac verse that honors her mother and tells of her own fraught childhood, Trethewey confronts the racial legacy of her native Deep South, where one of the first black regiments, the Louisiana Native Guards, was called into service during the Civil War. Trethewey’s resonant and beguiling collection is a haunting conversation between personal experience and national history.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henríquez
Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.

The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson
This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing “second American Revolution” we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty.

Bear, Diamonds and Crane by Claire Kageyama-Ramakrishnan
In this collection, personal narratives take their place alongside group stories, “the wound” that “resists erasure and cultural amnesia. […] the image of barbed wire.” Kageyama-Ramakrishnan reflects on the life of her grandmother, who “acquiesced on impulse” to marry and move to the United States on the U.S.S. Jackson as well as on stories from Manzanar, the concentration camp where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II.

Poeta en San Francisco by Barbara Jane Reyes
Poeta en San Francisco incorporates English, Spanish, and Tagalog in a book-length poem at once lush and experimentally rigorous. From the vantage of San Francisco, Reyes looks outward to the Philippines, Vietnam, and other colonized places with violent histories.

Thomas and Beluah by Rita Dove
Winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, Thomas and Beulah tells the semi-fictionalized chronological story of Dove’s maternal grandparents, the focus being on her grandfather (Thomas, his name in the book as well as in real life) in the first half and her grandmother (named Beulah in the book, although her real name was Georgianna) in the second.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy."
books  booklists  us  history  society  via:anne  americanexperience  2017  immigration  assimilation  race  class  americandream  vladimirnabokov  jamesmadison  alexanderhamilton  johnjay  chimamandangoziadichie  fscottfitzgerald  mildredtaylor  claudiarankine  julialavarez  sandracisneros  williamfaulkner  laurauingallswilder  domingomartinez  natashatretheway  christinahernandez  jamesbaldwin  jamesmcpherson  clairekageyama-ramakrishnan  barbarajanereyes  ritadove  imbolombue  diversity 
july 2017 by robertogreco
99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year – Future Crunch – Medium
[See also Chris Hadfield’s list:

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:017019e54e7b ]

"Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."

Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation

[1 – 9]

Huge strides forward for global health

[10 – 24]

Political and economic progress in many parts of the world

[25 – 41]

We finally started responding seriously to the climate change emergency

[42 – 59]

The world got less violent

[60 – 66]

Signs of hope for a life-sustaining economy

[67 – 78]

Endangered animals got a some well-deserved breaks

[79 – 90]

The world got more generous

[91 – 99]"
via:anne  optimism  2016  trends  improvement  progress  health  global  healthcare  disease  conservation  environment  chrishadfield  economics  endangeredanimals  animals  violence  climatechange  politics  generosity  charity  philanthropy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
These Beautiful Maps Reveal the Secret Lives of Animals
"New technology lets mapmakers follow baboons, vultures, and everything in between."

[See also: http://wheretheanimalsgo.com/

"Tracking wildlife with technology in 50 maps and graphics

For thousands of years, tracking animals meant following footprints. Now satellites, drones, camera traps, cellphone networks, apps and accelerometers allow us to see the natural world like never before. Geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti take you to the forefront of this animal-tracking revolution. Meet the scientists gathering wild data – from seals mapping the sea to baboons making decisions, from birds dodging tornadoes to jaguars taking selfies. Join the journeys of sharks, elephants, bumblebees, snowy owls and a wolf looking for love. Find an armchair, cancel your plans and go where the animals go."]
maps  mapping  animlas  multispecies  wildlife  books  2016  via:anne  technology  migration  jamescheshire  oliveruberti  birds  oceans  sharks  elephants  bumblebees  owls  seals  baboons 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Health Threats Mark Zuckerberg’s Gift Doesn’t Address | Risa Lavizzo-Mourey | Pulse | LinkedIn
"But health is not merely, or even mostly, determined by our DNA. Poverty, inequity, violence, poor housing, lack of a good education, lack of jobs, lack of access to healthy food or safe places to play – all have a dramatic impact on health. These social determinants of health are responsible for an estimated 80 percent of all illnesses; only 20 percent can be chalked up to biological causes alone.

The power of social determinants to drive health is illustrated by a series of maps (see below), produced by the Center for Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, which lay out projected lifespans based on where a person lives. In Atlanta, a baby born in Buckhead, a high-end shopping mecca, can expect to live 84 years, while five miles away in Bankhead, a neighborhood in transition, residents face a life expectancy a full 13 years shorter. Babies born on opposite sides of downtown Denver have an 11-year difference in life expectancy; in Richmond, Virginia the longevity gap between wealthy and underserved neighborhoods is a yawning 20 years. As the maps demonstrate, your zip code can be a greater determinant of life expectancy than your genetic code.

Narrowing the longevity gaps found in communities across the United States requires far more than money alone. These are the "wicked problems" facing America – problems that are huge and complex, with solutions that are neither clear nor stable. Even the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s $10 billion endowment — the fourth largest of any U.S. foundation — is not enough to cure these challenges to health.

What is needed is diverse thinking, lots of collaboration, and solutions designed by, and specific to, the communities they target. These solutions are already emerging, in communities across the nation, and need to be encouraged and amplified. For example, RWJF and the Reinvestment Fund recently launched Invest Health to bring together leaders from mid-sized U.S. cities that are applying innovative solutions to entrenched poverty, poor health, and a lack of investment. In January Invest Health awarded $3 million to 50 cities in support of programs that are creating affordable housing, safe places to play and exercise, and quality jobs. Teams from the selected cities have access to faculty advisors and coaches, and share what they've learned.

Zuckerberg and Chan will also require that researchers share their work, which is likely to speed up the search for causes and treatments for disease. In the same way, we all need to share ideas about how to address the systems and structures that perpetuate the glaring inequities that cause illness. We must develop cross-sector solutions that can address a multitude of problems. And we must learn from each other – both our successes and our mistakes."
markzuckerberg  health  healthcare  society  policy  politics  us  via:anne  2016  risalavizzo-mourey 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Dewey knew how to teach democracy and we must not forget it | Aeon Essays
"In 1897, Dewey described his ‘pedagogic creed’ as ‘individualistic’ and ‘socialistic’ because it sees the need to nurture each child’s unique talents and interests in a supportive community. …

For Dewey, however, it was not enough to ensure that his own children received a good education. He maintained that the future of US democracy hinged on offering a well-rounded, personalised education to all children and not just those of the wealthy, intelligent or well-connected. Dewey’s pedagogic creed is that ‘education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform’. Schools could teach students and communities to exercise autonomy and make democracy a concrete reality. The very name of the Laboratory School suggests that Dewey wanted the ideas developed there to be disseminated among education researchers and policymakers. What was unacceptable was a two-tiered education system that reinforced class and racial divisions. …

Why does this matter? Progressive education teaches children to pursue their own interests and exercise their voice in their community. In the 20th century, these kinds of young people participated in the movements against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. They founded Greenpeace and Students for a Democratic Society, listened to the Beatles and attended Woodstock, and established artistic communities and organic groceries. Though Dewey was not a beatnik, a hippy or a countercultural figure himself, his philosophy of education encourages young people to fight for a world where everyone has the freedom and the means to express their own personality. The education reform movement is not just about making kids take standardised tests; it is about crushing a rebellious spirit that often gives economic and political elites a headache. …

Dewey’s philosophy exercised a profound impact on US education in the mid-20th century. One reason is that many powerful individuals and groups advocated his ideas, including at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as at the Progressive Education Association, at the US Office of Education and at state departments of education. Dewey’s influence peaked during the ‘Great Compression’, the decades after the Second World War when the middle class had the clout to say that what is good for wealthy people’s kids is what is good for their own. In Democracy and Education, Dewey envisioned schools ‘equipped with laboratories, shops and gardens, where dramatisations, plays and games are freely used’. If a public school has a gymnasium, an art studio, a garden, a playground or a library, then one can see Dewey’s handiwork.

In 1985, a few scholars wrote a book called The Shopping Mall High School to deride the tendency in the US to offer a wide array of courses, many of which have a tenuous connection to academic subjects. For Dewey, however, the other side of this story is that schools and communities were trying to find ways to engage children. As we shall see, Dewey did not think that schools should simply pander to children’s current interests. At the same time, he opposed efforts to impose a ready-made curriculum on children across the country – or, more pointedly, on those whose parents could not afford to send them to private schools. …

The task of the teacher, according to Dewey, is to harness the child’s interest to the educational process. ‘The problem of instruction is thus that of finding material which will engage a person in specific activities having an aim or purpose of moment or interest to him.’ Teachers can employ Dewey’s insight by having a pet rabbit in the classroom. As students take care of the animal, and watch it hop about the classroom, they become interested in a host of topics: how to feed animals, the proper care of animals, the occupation of veterinarians, and biology. Rather than teach material in an abstract manner to young children, a wise teacher brings the curriculum into ‘close quarters with the pupil’s mind’.

According to Dewey, teachers should cultivate a student’s natural interest in the flourishing of others. It is a mistake to interpret interest as self-interest. Our thriving is intimately connected with the flourishing of other people. The role of democratic education is to help children see their own fate as entwined with that of the community’s, to see that life becomes richer if we live among others pursuing their own interests. Democracy means ‘equitably distributed interests’. All children – rich, poor, black, white, male, female, and so forth – should have the opportunity to discover and cultivate their interests. Schools ought to be the site where we model a society that reconciles individualism and socialism, and that allows each child to add her own distinct voice to society’s choir.

What is controversial about Dewey’s concept of interest? Sometimes, far-right groups share the following quote attributed to Dewey: ‘Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.’ There is no factual basis for this attribution, and for good reason: it contravenes Dewey’s ambition to achieve a higher synthesis between strong-willed individuals and a democratic society, not to crush a child’s individuality for the sake of social uniformity. Dewey makes this point crystal clear in his essay ‘The School and Society’ (1899), where he announces a Copernican revolution in education whereby ‘the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve’.

Here, then, we understand the explosive core of Dewey’s philosophy of education. He wants to empower children to think for themselves and cooperate with each other. The purpose of widely distributing interests is to break down ‘barriers of class, race, and national territory’ and ‘secure to all the wards of the nation equality of equipment for their future careers’. Imagine a world without racism or sexism, one where all children get the same kind of education as the wisest and wealthiest parents demand for their own children, and one that trains workers to question whether their interests are being served by the current ownership and use of the means of production. Dewey is the spiritual head of the New Left whose writings have both inspired teachers and infused schools, and provoked a reaction from those who detest this political vision. …

Dewey believes that educators need to place themselves in the mind of the child, so to speak, to determine how to begin their education journeys. ‘An end which is the child’s own carries him on to possess the means of its accomplishment.’ Many parents who take their families to children’s museums are acting upon this idea. A good museum will teach children for hours without them ever becoming conscious of learning as such. Climbing through a maze gives children opportunities to solve problems; floating vessels down an indoor stream teaches children about water and hydrodynamics; building a structure with bricks and then placing it on a rumbling platform introduces children to architecture: all of these activities make learning a joy.

For Dewey, however, it is essential that educators lead children on a considered path to the cutting-edge of scientific knowledge on a multitude of topics. A good teacher will place stimuli in front of children that will spark their imagination and inspire them to solve the problem at hand. The goal is to incrementally increase the challenges so that students enter what the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s called ‘the zone of proximal development’ where they stretch their mental faculties. At a certain point, children graduate from museums and enter a more structured curriculum. There can be intermediary or supplementary steps – say, when they make a business plan, learn to sail, or intern at an architect’s office. Eventually, teachers have to rely on traditional methods of reading, lecturing and testing to make sure that students learn the material.

In the conclusion to ‘The Child and the Curriculum’, Dewey enjoins: ‘Let the child’s nature fulfil its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of science and art and industry the world now holds as its own.’ He has faith that the child’s nature will find expression in the highest forms of human endeavour and that, for example, a kindergarten artist might grow into an accomplished painter. Dewey also believes that individual expression tends to lead to socially beneficial activities. These articles of faith are not necessarily vindicated by experience. Sometimes children choose the wrong path, and sometimes well-educated individuals seek to profit from other people’s misery. …

Dewey shows us that appeals to democracy carry weight. We recoil at the notion that some children deserve a better education than others because of their parents’ political or economic status. Nobody will say with a straight face that wealthy children should be raised to lead, while middle- or lower-class children are raised to follow, or that the kind of education available at the finest private schools in the US should be an exclusive privilege of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.’ Dewey’s words ring as true today as they did a century ago. In the face of the unrelenting attack of the education reform movement, we must fight to actualise Dewey’s vision of great schools providing the foundation for a living democracy."
via:anne  education  johndewey  sfsh  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  schools  learning  pedagogy  society  individualism  individuals  community  class  inequality  us  policy  rttt  nclb  anationatrisk  race  training  howweteach  meaning  purpose  elitism  theshoppingmallhighschool  edhirsch  hannaharendt  vygotsky  zpd  interests  interest-basedlearning  children  criticalthinking  autonomy  interest-drivenlearning 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Care — Cultural Anthropology
"I propose care as a methodological mode of attention that can ground the sometimes frightening implications of the Anthropocene as an epoch. Care as a method helps shift the overwhelming largeness of the spheres—bio, strato, litho—toward more intimate and personal relationships with the Anthropocene as an emergent quality of the natural/cultural world. A good working definition of care highlights the cultivated body-knowledges and sensibilities by which creatures come to attend to one another’s needs. The creatures I draw in here are teachers of western herbalism, their students, and the plants they work with. Their modes of learning care across biological difference can offer a response to the suggestion that problems of the Anthropocene—global climate change, plastics in the ocean, pharmaceuticals in the water supply, the potential collapse of global ecologies—are too big to cope with."



"An herbalist who wanders into the garden or out of the city to gather plants in less managed woods, field, desert and swamp, bends or reaches and slows down to greet the plant, asking permission to harvest some of its parts. He or she often leaves an offering, a gift, in return for the gift of the plant’s medicine. Visiting burdock, dandelion, or black cohosh, herbalists make room for the plant’s be-ing, beyond its usual object status. Caring across biologies emerges as a bodily practice through such exchanges. By attempting to move into plant time, herbalists construct a fleshly, embodied mode of attending that shifts their human perception and proprioception. Plants as beings become intimately palpable, emerging as a kind of kin to care for.

Herbalists’ intentionally intimate and embodied relational practices help articulate how and why plant-human relationships matter. Such practices understand plants as beings occupying a different mode of time, and as capable of coordinating with humans to enable care across entangled biologies and social ecologies of wellness and illness (see Craig 2012; Nading 2014). They offer us the chance to think more broadly about who can care for whom and how, rather than falling into the seductive traps of projected human victimhood that thinking with the Anthropocene so often offers (Dean 2016). This is carework not in terms of ocean levels or parts per million, although those articulations of the biosphere’s assemblages help to tell stories about why intimate forms of care are necessary. Rather, this care happens at the vegetal pace of affective and embodied relation across domains of experience. Care across biological difference can enrich the possibilities that the Anthropocene as a conceptual framework offers us, while also helping us thrive in its context."
care  caring  via:anne  anthropology  charisboke  anthropocene  multispecies 
july 2016 by robertogreco
In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking) - The New York Times
"Can a stretch of land be a person in the eyes of the law? Can a body of water?

In New Zealand, they can. A former national park has been granted personhood, and a river system is expected to receive the same soon.

The unusual designations, something like the legal status that corporations possess, came out of agreements between New Zealand’s government and Maori groups. The two sides have argued for years over guardianship of the country’s natural features.

Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”

From 1954 to 2014, Te Urewera was an 821-square-mile national park on the North Island, but when the Te Urewera Act took effect, the government gave up formal ownership, and the land became a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person,” as the statute puts it.

“The settlement is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world,” said Pita Sharples, who was the minister of Maori affairs when the law was passed.

It was also “undoubtedly legally revolutionary” in New Zealand “and on a world scale,” Jacinta Ruru of the University of Otago wrote in the Maori Law Review.

Personhood means, among other things, that lawsuits to protect the land can be brought on behalf of the land itself, with no need to show harm to a particular human.

Next will be the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third longest. The local Maori tribe views it as “an indivisible and living whole, comprising the river and all tributaries from the mountains to the sea — and that’s what we are giving effect to through this settlement,” Mr. Finlayson said. It is expected to clear Parliament and become law this year.

Visitors can still enjoy Te Urewera the way they could when it was a park. “We want to welcome people; public access is completely preserved,” Mr. Finlayson said. But permits for activities like hunting are now issued by a board that includes government and Maori representatives. A similar board will be set up for the river.

Could this legal approach spread beyond New Zealand? Mr. Finlayson said he had talked the idea over with Canada’s new attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould."
newzealand  land  rivers  law  legal  nature  2016  maori  personhood  via:anne 
july 2016 by robertogreco
This is why Finland has the best schools
"The Harvard education professor Howard Gardner once advised Americans, "Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States."

Following his recommendation, I enrolled my seven-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu. Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border.

OK, I wasn't just blindly following Gardner - I had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. But the point is that, for five months, my wife, my son and I experienced a stunningly stress-free, and stunningly good, school system. Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation.

In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of seven. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light.

Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. According to one Finnish maxim, "There is no bad weather. Only inadequate clothing."

One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. "They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out," he said.

Finland doesn't waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality "personalised learning device" ever created - flesh-and-blood teachers.

In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Finns put into practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over: "Let children be children," "The work of a child is to play," and "Children learn best through play."

The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up straight. As one Chinese student-teacher studying in Finland marvelled to me, "In Chinese schools, you feel like you're in the military. Here, you feel like you're part of a really nice family." She is trying to figure out how she can stay in Finland permanently.

In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have a master's degree in education with specialisation in research and classroom practice.

"Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians," one Finnish childhood education professor told me. "We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building." In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.

Finland delivers on a national public scale highly qualified, highly respected and highly professionalised teachers who conduct personalised one-on-one instruction; manageable class sizes; a rich, developmentally correct curriculum; regular physical activity; little or no low-quality standardised tests and the toxic stress and wasted time and energy that accompanies them; daily assessments by teachers; and a classroom atmosphere of safety, collaboration, warmth and respect for children as cherished individuals.

One day last November, when the first snow came to my part of Finland, I heard a commotion outside my university faculty office window, which is close to the teacher training school's outdoor play area. I walked over to investigate.

The field was filled with children savouring the first taste of winter amid the pine trees.

"Do you hear that?" asked the recess monitor, a special education teacher wearing a yellow safety smock.

"That," she said proudly, "is the voice of happiness.""
finland  education  schools  williamdoyle  health  children  teaching  learning  homework  play  outdoors  via:anne 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The 'Not Face' Is Universally Understood - D-brief
"When your boss strolls up to your desk at 5 p.m. on a Friday and asks you to work on Saturday, your facial expression tells the whole story. And, according to a new study from researchers at Ohio State University, no matter if your boss comes from Nigeria, Nepal or Nebraska, the look on your face will still come across loud and universally clear.

How Many Ways to Say No?

The study, led by Aleix Martinez, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU, looked at the facial expressions of 158 students with a range of native languages as they expressed “I don’t want to.”

Speakers of English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language (ASL) were filmed while reciting a sentence with a negative valence, or responding to a question that they were likely to disagree with. The researchers manually selected the telltale signs of what they called the “Not Face” — furrowed brows, raised chin and compressed lips — from the images and set a computer algorithm to work sorting out “Not Faces” from others. They published their results Monday in the journal Cognition.

The Universally Understood ‘Not Face’

They found that the “Not Faces” appeared with the same frequency as spoken syllables, indicating that it was a genuine mode of communication, as opposed to a random occurrence. What’s more, the expression translated almost perfectly across languages, implying that the genesis of this particular expression extends far back into the past. While our words may differentiate us, our expressions remain a global unifier.

Martinez has done research into facial expressions before. In a 2014 study, he categorized 21 unique emotions, including “happily disgusted,” and “sadly angry,” for use in cognitive analysis. The new research builds on his previous findings by definitively linking a facial expression to language. While most of us recognize nonverbal modifiers with ease, proving that one of these modifiers exists across cultures and languages will allow for more accurate facial recognition software, as well as insights into the beginnings of communication and language.

Words and sentences make up only a part of human communication — anyone who has ever succeeded in obtaining directions in a foreign country by sole use of hand movements can attest. These arm-flailing conversations may look ridiculous, but they nevertheless succeed in getting the basic concept across. Even in normal conversation, our faces and bodies convey subtle shades of nuance that can add up to distinctly alter the meaning of a sentence.

Crucial for Sign Language

In certain languages, the unspoken cues hold much more significance. Sign language, for example, is based off of hand and body movements, but also relies heavily on a diverse array of facial expressions. For proof, look no further than ASL translator Lydia Callis, who became an Internet sensation during Hurricane Sandy for her virtuosic use of facial expressions while signing about the impending storm.

In his study, Martinez found that ASL users also deploy the “Not Face,” but do so to even greater effect than verbal language users. While those speaking English, Spanish and Chinese used the expression to strengthen the stated emotion, ASL users would replace the sign for “not” entirely, using only the “Not Face” to convey the same statement.

Martinez says that this is the first documented instance of ASL speakers completely replacing a word with a facial expression. Such a discovery highlights the crucial role facial expressions play in fully communicating how we feel to others.

Martinez hopes to expand his library of faces by teaching computer algorithms to recognize different expressions without the need for manual selection. Once they have that ability, he plans to use thousands of hours of YouTube videos to train them and hopefully compile a database of human expressions.

Such a database of expressions might be of interest to robots like Sophia, whose accurate but still creepy impressions made headlines at this year’s SXSW."
asl  expression  communication  via:anne  2016  disagreement  aleixmartinez  spanish  español  mandarin  negativevalence  notface  translation  universality  signlanguage  signing 
march 2016 by robertogreco

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